Making broadcast copies for individual Franchises
I produced a commercial for an individual business that happens to be a franchise of a larger chain. There is an opportunity to sell the same content (with ending text edit changes) to about 20 different franchises. I want to quote this at the best price possible in order to get the work. I NEED the work. I was thinking of offering them at $750 per edit (franchise).
Here is my concern: I need to be able to give each of them a broadcast ready master in the easiest/cheapest way possible that doesn't cut too deeply into my profit. I really would like to avoid the expense of delivering the Beta Broadcast copies myself. Is there a codec I can choose from Final Cut 6.0.6 that I can send each franchise through an FTP or maybe even on a DVD and let the cable company create their own Beta transfer? Or better yet, might there be a codec I can send from FCP from which the local cable/TV channels can broadcast directly? Sorry if I sound like a bit of a rookie on this. I haven't ever gone this low of a price point before and usually, my making the Beta copy from a ProRes copy doesn't cut into the profit enough for it to make a difference. In this case however, we are talking about a bunch of beta copies going to a bunch of different people. I really need to make this as painless and inexpensive as possible while still delivering an easy to use product to the customer. Thanks in advance for your help.
Note: I posted this thread in a FCP forum
Here's the thing: you want to sell the customized masters to each franchise owner, then that owner has to walk the master over to their local cable or broadcast Tv stations and pay to run it. Each of those cable outlets and individual stations very well could require a different format. I'd almost bet you money that no two will take the same format.
Right now, I can't think of one perfect universal format that any station could run, besides a beta SP dub. With consumer Dv25, at least the Sony and Panasonic decks would both play back their competitor's DV25 tapes, even if they couldn't record on them. Even with FTP, there are at least 5 different codecs people are using, and questions about field order as well as audio peak levels. Over in the Marketing forum there is a hot thread going on right now about FTP services like DG Fastchannel, their good and not so good points. You should skim that thread to read the horror stories as well as the happy user stories.
My sense of your situtation, by the way you describe it, is that your margins are so low on this, and your desired price point so low, that you might not be able to afford a service like DG's, instead handing off the costs to the end users, which may price the thing out of their comfort zone... and that leaves you with handling the FTP yourself on a case-by-case basis to every franchisee customer, or figuring out one or two most-compatible dub formats, and hoping for the best.
If you do the ftp fulfillment yourself, that means you are going to have to do the grunt work of calling every station in each franchisee's market and talking to their engineering or traffic departments to get their tech standards for what they can accept electronically or on physical media. You can't count on the franchise customers to do that legwork for you; they won't do it, or they will do it incompetently, and you will have wasted time and money and made enemies out of what was to be an easy thing.
You *could* just burn standard SD MPEG2 DVD's and send them with instructions to use the free MPEG streamclip utility program to rip the mpeg2 into whatever format the end user wants. Heck, add a second CD with a copy of Streamclip to the package to sweeten the deal, since some facilites may not have free net access everywhere in the plant. End user quality is then out of your hands.
But without calling the stations to research what they accept, you won't know how they will deal with the media you send. Some small stations will either not understand what to do with the DVD, or may not have the infrastructure to handle it so they will just play the DVD out of a $30 walmart DVD player, into a new encoder for whatever server they use, or they may bump it to analog or digital tape. That could look like poop. For high-def, you could burn BluRay disks and hope for the best. At least, as I like to say, you have several choices for bluray readers from game consoles to set top players to computer drives, so *someone* should be able to play it. That still does not promise they can extract the spot in useable form, though.
You might say: "well, the station tech staff will just have to figure it out, once the sales department has taken the money to run and schedule it". And you'd be right; standards are compromised all the time in broadcast, on orders from the guys in the white shoes and belts. But *how* they make that happen could be so ugly that you could hurt your reputation, even though you did your best. What's one of the most famous, most-common quotes in production engineering?
"It looked good going out of HERE..."
Thank you for your thorough, detailed and obviously very comprehensive response. I posted this thread here and in an FCP forum and am overwhelmed with how knowledgeable all of you guys are in these matters. I will definitely ponder the advice you and others have given me as I try to stay above the black line on this transaction with the franchises.
From what you said, I think my best bet would be to make MiniDV masters for all of these, and deliver the ones that will accept such and for the others, I will send the MiniDVs out to a duplicator house like 'Digitial Film Tree' or 'Transfer West', to have a BetaSP, digiBeta or standard Beta master made.
Thanks again for your expertise and professionalism Mark.
That's quite a thank-you for my answer, which in three words boiled down to:
"I don't know"
Ask the stations/networks you'll be sending the spot to what they prefer. They'll list all accepted formats and tell ya how they like their bars/tone, slate and show start. It varies from place to place so just ask. Most do accept quicktimes.
hence the interlace woes ya see aired all the time today. Whilew their use to be a QC guy for masters, now most have an intern grabbin clippage from their server of choice and throwin' into rotation.
Thanks for chiming in. In addition to Phil and few others here at CC, you have definitely eased my mind. I will be ready with MiniDV masters here from my office, and then will send out the MiniDVs to a dupe house for anyone who prefer a Beta master. Further still I will FTP them any codec they desire out of Compressor if that's to their liking. Thanks again for your help.